The Ugly Dulcimer - A Story

Ken Longfield
07/30/18 04:11:47PM

Somewhere and at sometime someone decided to build a mountain dulcimer kit. I imagine that the kit was ordered with the expectation of building a fine musical instrument. Unfortunately the prospective builder was not skilled at following directions and woodworking. The dulcimer turned out to be lopsided (asymmetrical). It had glue all over it in the wrong places. The sound holes. look like bells, but may have started out as something else. They take a large chunk of wood out of the top of the dulcimer. Probably the eager builder became disillusioned with the project as it ended up, unfinished, at a yard sale in Silver Spring, Maryland.

My sister, walking through the yard sale, saw the unfinished kit and decided to rescue it. She handed the seller the $2.00 asking price as the seller asked, "Do you know what this is?" She replied, "It's going to be a mountain dulcimer."

Fast forward about twenty-five years or so. I has been too rainy here in central Pennsylvania to do yard, and I needed something to do. So, I decided to dig out the ugly dulcimer and see what I could with it. I started by taking it apart. In trying to correct the mistakes I had to alter the size of the instrument. This led to the upper sound holes meeting the sides of the instrument.

The dulcimer did not come with any hardware other than the frets already installed in the fret board. I think that was done by the maker of the kit. I will be adding tuners, nut, and bridge soon. Something else note in the photo is an tailpiece that I will add. I agonized over the sound holes wondering whether I could change their shape in anyway or reduce their size. After exploring several ideas and possibilities I decided to leave them as they are. This is why I call it the "ugly" dulcimer. I do not like the sound holes. When I finish building this dulcimer I will post more photos.